Streamline Your Development Process

The ten steps outlined below can help streamline your development process.  

Each step provides an overview of what is involved, who you'll need to talk to and documents or resources you may find useful.

The information below can be tailored to your project, depending on its size or complexity.

Your project may be subject to processes not outlined in the below and it is recommended you consult professionals should you be unsure of how to proceed.


The first step towards planning your new build is to access ​accurate plans of your site. You can request a copy of your ​property file online or at your nearest service centre. A ​property file includes rating information, building and ​drainage plans, consent information, licensing details and other relevant information.

Learn more about property files and order your copy online 

It costs $60 + postage to receive the files on CD/USB. Please note, if you are requesting plans for an empty piece of land, there may not be any information held on the property file. 

If there are no plans on file at Council, you can search via Land Information New Zealand. 


T​he next step is to find out which zone your site is in under the Auckland Unitary Plan. The rules for your zone will tell you what kind of development your site can accommodate.

You can check your zone by using the Unitary Plan Maps.

If you’re unable to access the online maps, you can also call the Council on (09) 301 0101 and ask to be directed to your local planning helpdesk.

What do you want to build?

Start thinking about your design as early as possible. You may even want to keep a scrapbook of your ideas.  This will make it easier to create a design brief for your architect or draftsperson. The Design Manual has an excellent library of housing examples, check out the Case Studies under the Resources section.

Before you get started,  you may also find it useful to look at the Developing a New Home guide. This comprehensive guide walks you through the entire development process in 10 steps.


​Once you know which zone your site is in, you’ll need to look at the operative version of the Unitary Plan​.

Having trouble wrapping your head around the Unitary Plan?

Read through Unitary Plan 101: Easy Guide to the Residential Standards. Then apply the rules to your site by using the Illustrated Checklists to establish your building envelope and plan your site.


You may want to take the opportunity to drop into one of the Council’s service centres to meet with a duty planner. They’ll be able to answer any questions you have and give you advice on the next stages of your project in a free 15 minute appointment. For those unable to make it into one of the centres, this service is also available over telephone on (09) 301 0101 or via email.

It’s important to engage in early discussions with the Council, as this will help you make informed decisions about your project and utimately save you time.

For more information on the free advice Council offers on consents click here​.


Once you’ve spoken with Council, it’s time to start considering the professionals you’ll need to engage on your project. You can save a lot of time and money by talking to a surveyor, architect, draughtsperson, engineer, planner, or any other appropriate specialist as early as possible.

Now would also be a good time to consider how involved you’d like to be in the process – are you the hands-on type who likes to project manage or would you rather sit back and leave it to the professionals? Either way, the Design Manual has some great advice on how to employ your design and construction team.

Below are some other resources you may find helpful when engaging professionals:

Architectural Designers New Zealand offers a Find a Designer service

The New Zealand Institute of Architects Incorporated offers a Find an Architect service

The New Zealand Planning Institute has an Online Planning Consultants Directory​ if you need assistance with the resource consent process

The New Zealand Certified Builders Association offers a Find a Builder service

Registered Master Builders offers a Find a Builder​ service


You can use the Illustrated Checklists to plan your site and establish your building envelope.

Once you have a better idea of your site's development potential, you can start developing your design.

Need inspiration?

The Design Manual offers an extensive advice on designing a new home, including Case Studies that you can show your designer, architect, planner or builder.

Need Best Practice Design Guidance?

Look at the residential design guides to expand your knowledge on how to deliver the most functional, comfortable and liveable designs for your project. These are non-statutory guides based on international best practice standards.

Currently the Design Manual has guides for Stand-Alone Housing, Terraces, Apartments, and Mixed Use Developments.

Want to build a dwelling that has a sense of place?

You may also want to consider a following a Māori Design Process, check out the Māori Design Hub for more information on Te Aranga Māori Design Principles.

Consider the life cycle of the building and its occupants, for example, the level of maintenance it will require. As well as this, consider the changing requirements of the people who will live there, such as having a young family or wanting to age in place. The Sustainable Design Guide and Universal Design Resource both offer advice on how to consider the life cycle of your building at the design stage, as well as features that can make your home safer, easier and more convenient for everyone.​

Do I need a Consent?

All new dwellings require building consent, though smaller projects may be exempt. The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment offer a helpful guide outlining building work that does not require a building consent.

Your project may require resource consent depending on the proposed scale of development and the zone the site is located in. This information can be found within the respective zone section of the Auckland Unitary Plan text, found here.


​Once your draft design is ready, you may wish to meet with the Council for pre-application advice.  ​

The costs for pre-application advice are as follows:

  • Standard Proposal - $287
  • Complex Proposal - $287 + hourly rate for specialist input (a Complex Proposal is generally defined as any development of four dwellings or more)

Pre-application advice will help determine what consents or permits your development requires.

Explaining your design

In preparation for your pre-app, consider producing a design statement.  You can use it to illustrate your design thinking to Council Planners and specialists.  Producing a design statement can be useful to help you work out the best solution for your site.

Design statements should cover the following:

  • An analysis of your site and the surrounding neighbourhood
  • A summary of the key planning rules relevant to the site
  • The primary opportunities and constraints of the site
  • An explanation of how the proposed design responds to these opportunities and constraints​​

Delivering a large scale project?

During the pre-application stage, the Council will determine whether your project requires review from the Auckland Urban Design Panel. The Panel provides independent design review of significant projects.

This means you can get an independent peer review and advice from the Panel before you apply for your resource consent. 


​Resource Consent

The Council aims to process non-notified resource consent applications in 20 working days.

Resource consent fees vary depending on the type of consent and scale of development. Click here for an indication of the likely cost of your resource consent.​

Please note, many resource consents for subdivisions and new dwellings also attract a development contribution fee and water connection charges.

Building consent

The Council aims to process building consent applications in 20 working days.

Building consent and Code Compliance Certificate fees vary depending on the value of the project. Click here for an indication of the likely cost of your building consent.


hile your consents are being processed by the Council, it may be helpful to begin your search for a construction team for your project. The team should be familiar with the type of construction you are proposing and be New Zealand Certified Builders (NZCB) accredited.

Once your consent(s) have been granted by the Council, you are ready to hire your construction team and start your build.


From the date your consent is issued, you have 12 months to start works on site. You must notify the Council the day you begin the work. 

Your Resource Consent is valid for five years and your Building Consent is valid for two years. If you are unable to meet these timeframes, you will need to apply for an extension of time from the Council.

During the build, you'll need to arrange inspections to ensure the work complies with any conditions of the building consent. Once the build is complete, you must apply for a final inspection to confirm that the project complies with that consent, as well as the Building Code.

More information on inspections during the building consent process can be found here.

Once your inspector has confirmed that the project has met all the requirements of the Consent and Building Code, you're almost ready to move into your new home.

Handover and Post Build

On completion of the development, it is important the building is formally handed over to you by the builder. This will establish whether or not the builder's obligations have been met.

The Design Manual's  Handover Evaluation Checklist is a handy tool you can use to ensure that the final build meets the final design specifications.​

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